Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Esther Feldman Icikson - October 23 & 29, November 5 & 12, 2001


Who put this together?

The uh, the management of the area and the people that were responsible for the mo...

Not just the workers who wanted to get out.

No, no, no. The uh, the uh, management said that um, you can put together a big raft. And the people worked themselves, they built it themselves, the ones that were living there. And the ones that wanted to get--go out, to, to leave Siberia. But they had permission to do it. So they built a big raft and quite a large number of people got together and built it, and were leaving. Uh, my mom tried to get on a boat. She took my dad's suits, there, there was a watch in her possession. She tried to bribe the captain. We just couldn't get on. We were a family. There were three kids, there was my grandma, my mother. There was my aunt and her children. There were uh, Mayer and Pinhaus and Miriam and Rivka, four kids. So, these were my first cousins.

And your grandma.

And my grandma too, sure. So there was a whole family. We just couldn't get on the boat. So, uh...

What happened to the people who left on that boat, do you know?

Oh they...

On the big one.

On the big one, on the big raft? They made it. They made it. Because actually my grandma went on that big raft. She didn't want to go with us. She didn't trust. Isn't that funny? Uh, my mother said to her, "Shviger," means mother-in-law in Yiddish. She says, "you know what, I'm going to build a raft and we'll go ourselves. We'll get there faster and simplier." And she says, "No I'm not going. I'm going to go with all the people." So she chose to do that. And she went with this big group of people on the large raft. They got to Asino, they got there. But, I'm trying to think, did we get faster there? Earlier? I don't remember. I think we might have gotten there earlier, I'm not sure. So, my grandma went with the big raft uh, and my mother decided to build her own.

By herself?

By herself. My cousins helped. My cousins, one was maybe fourt...must have been fourteen, and Pinhaus maybe was thirteen. And--but there were few people that really kind of felt sorry for my mom or felt that you know, this woman had put in so much effort to survive with her family. So they helped her uh, with supply. Because you needed stuff to build with. Uh, big uh, nails, hooks uh, wires uh, logs you know, all this had to be. And she, she collected everything and she built a raft.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn